HOT: Patch Cafe, Studio 9, 2 Bendigo Street, Richmond

patch cafe

Patch Cafe in Richmond is a newish operation that serves a paleo-inspired, clean eating menu. Before you pooh-pooh the idea their food managed to entice someone like me, who is definitely not grain-free, sugar-free and fat-free. 

I was invited to try out their menu and took myself off to the old Channel Nine building in Richmond.

patch cafe

It’s been transformed into slick apartments with the cafe at the bottom level along with huge expanses of outdoor space.

patch cafe

Indoors it’s long and narrow, intimate and cosy. I recommend sitting at the back of the cafe, even though it faces the (fancy) sink, as it captures the most light from the huge windows.

patch cafe

As I’m not a coffee drinker (beans are from Code Black Coffee) I start with a huggable mug of creamy but dairy-free Anushka soy chai ($4.50) that’s warming and fragrant on a freezing wet day.

patch cafe

Even though it’s technically still breakfast I head straight for a serve of confit pork belly with apple puree, roasted root vegetables, paleo jus and crackling. The large plate is a very reasonable $23 and an excellent, fancy version of essentially meat and three veg. I have no idea what paleo jus is but if pork belly for breakfast equals clean eating, sign me up!

patch cafe

We also try the banana and almond hotcakes, with house made pistachio and cacao ice cream, paleo caramel and kiwi chunks ($10). I love how the hotcakes have a chunk of banana, gooey and caramelised, right in the centre. As they are made from almond meal they are more crumbly than a traditional flour-based pancake but the accompaniments balance out the dryness.

patch cafe

The raw desserts are made by Jayde Hwang, a blogger who also manages to find time as Patch’s marketing person. They are decadent and delicious and it’s amazing that they don’t contain sugar. I recommend the ‘blueberry cheescake’ and like many raw desserts you only need a little to feel satisfied.

If you’re on the go or heading to the park by the Yarra Patch Cafe offer ‘Patch Boxes’, take away meals for only $15 that are paleo inspired plus gluten, dairy, sugar and grain free. I like their chunky, nutty, satisfying bircher which contains activated hazelnuts and almonds, goji, apricots, pumpkin seeds, coconut, chia seeds, vanilla bean and orange, poached fig, coconut yoghurt and coconut nectar. Phew that’s a dozen ingredients I don’t have to bother combining (or activating huh) at home!

Patch Cafe shows that it’s possible to provide healthy food that’s tasty and anything but parsimonious. The stylish space is restful and peaceful, making a lovely stop for body and soul.


 

 

Patch Cafe, Studio 9, 2 Bendigo Street, Richmond (03) 9029 0328

Mon-Fri 7-4pm

Sat-Sun 8-4pm

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HOT: Square and Compass, 222 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

square and compass cafe

Square and Compass in East Melbourne was recently crowned as one of Melbourne’s best new cafes and it’s the combined work of owners with links to Pillar of Salt, Touchwood and Barry.

Square and Compass stands alone on Clarendon Street inside a red brick terrace house, surrounded by residences, offices, health services and hospital blocks. Since its opening it’s been a drawcard for East Melbourne locals and workers bereft of good eateries at the northern end of Fitzroy Gardens.

square and compass cafe

The cafe is bright and welcoming and at 8am on a Sunday it’s already filling up. It’s too cold to hang out at the chic courtyard at the back but come summer I’m sure it’ll be popular.

square and compass cafe

The all day menu includes cafe standards with a twist and over several visits I’ve tried…

square and compass cafe

… the five grain porridge, with a ribbon of sweet apple puree creaminess punctuated by a crunchy crumble. It’s sort of like mixing an apple pie into your oats! However, I’d prefer fresh fruit to dehydrated fruit – stretchy, leathery dried fruit has never been my thing. ($13.50).

square and compass cafe

…the waffles, a gorgeous berry and flower-strewn palette atop some fluffy waffles. I like the addition of brandy snaps jutting out of the vanilla-flecked cream ($16.50).

square and compass cafe

peanut butter, heirloom tomatoes and toasted peanuts on toast ($13). The combination sounds weird but the menu says ‘trust us’ – so I do. It does work surprisingly well. The peanut butter is not particularly sweet and the savoury nuttiness balances out the tangy juicy tomatoes. I’m surprised it’s not on more cafe menus because now I’ve tried it once it seems like an entirely appropriate sandwich combination.

They serve coffee by Seven Seeds and Promised Land, Chai Boy chai and Mork hot chocolate. 

square and compass cafe

The service is friendly at Square and Compass and it makes a great pit stop if you’re heading to Fitzroy Garden. If you want to take away a picnic I highly recommend their gourmet rolls, particularly the pork belly with crackling (all $10), and maybe grab a decadent Doughboys Doughnuts as well.


Square and Compass, 222 Clarendon St, East Melbourne (03) 9416 4914

Mon to Fri 7:00 am – 4:00 pm

Sat to Sun 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

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HOT: Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters, 113 Hardware Street, Melbourne

hash coffee roasters

If you’re walking down Hardware Street and looking for Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters, just look out for the lightbox with ‘#’. In this social media saturated world, there’s no need to actually spell out H-A-S-H to brunch goers hunting for the cool cafe.

hash coffee roasters

Inside Hash the decor is dark, jagged and steely, with a rabbit warren of single booths, small tables and communal benches snaking up to a mezzanine area. The upstairs area is the best place to go if you want to hide from the busy hum downstairs.

hash coffee roasters

hash coffee roasters

hash coffee roasters

I was invited to try some of Hash’s menu but before we get to the food let’s talk about THAT hot chocolate ($6).

hash coffee roasters

This awe-inspiring beehive of house made milk fairy floss and beaker of Mork dark chocolate has been the talk of foodie social media since it first emerged. On a weekend the cafe has been known to sell 100 hot chocolates a day!

Basically you pour the molten mixture into the tower fairy floss, watching as the tower collapses onto itself and sweetens the 85% cocoa chocolate. The resulting drink is smooth, intense and not too sweet and the theatrical experience just adds to the fun.

If you’re not a hot chocolate fan the coffee is made using Zest beans though there are plans to roast on site.

The breakfast menu is available all day and I was given small tastes of some dishes, so the photos may not actually reflect the portions of a main meal.

hash coffee roasters

Highlights included the crusty leek and cheddar croquettes ($19.50) with cauliflower puree, shreds of ham hock, cavolo nero and a poached egg poached in turmeric which didn’t impart much flavour but did give the dish a jolly yellow glow.

hash coffee roasters

The coconut  yoghurt pannacotta ($15.50) could have been a little less firm but I liked the artistry of the accompanying toasted nuts and grains and delicate flowers.

hash coffee roasters

I returned another day to try their grilled banana and pecan loaf ($18.50). I really liked the chunky nuts inside the springy loaf but thought that it would be better balanced in terms of texture and flavour with either burnt honey mascarpone or white chocolate custard, not both. I also thought compared to some of the other dishes the price was disproportionate to the size of the loaf you got.

The CBD is a bit of a dead zone for breakfast on the weekends so Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters is a welcome discovery. I think some of the dishes could be simplified to highlight the top quality of the ingredients – the kitchen evidently cares about the provenance of its goods given the producers are name-checked on the menu.

And make sure you order the signature hot chocolate!


Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters, 113 Hardware Street, Melbourne, VIC 03 8529 0284

Mon-Fri 7:00am-4:00pm

Sat- Sun 8:00am- 5:00pm

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HOT: Bread and Jam for Frances, 1/701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn (enter via Linda Crescent or through Readings)

bread and jam for frances cafe

Melbourne Writer’s Festival starts tomorrow Thursday 20 August – Sunday 30 August so today I’m introducing you to a fabulous bookish cafe – Bread and Jam for Frances in Hawthorn.

The cafe is named after the classic children’s book by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban and is attached to Readings Hawthorn, one of my Top 10 Best Children’s Bookshops in Melbourne. You can enter via the bookshop or its own entrance on Linda Crescent opposite Coles.

bread and jam for frances cafe

I really like the church-like atmosphere of the place. Not that it’s silent and solemn. More that the cathedral-high ceilings and arched windows let in an abundance of light and the noise levels seem to be pretty muted (even during busy times) as most people are perusing their latest book purchase.

bread and jam for frances

Bread and Jam for Frances is run by Dench Bakers in North Fitzroy so you know the bread, pastries and cakes are sure to be good. Customers come to buy a takeaway coffee and a loaf of organic artisan sourdough or sit at small tables or banquette to enjoy the short, mostly grain based, menu (sorry paleo people). They serve Veneziano coffee and Larsen & Thompson teas and have an alcohol licence.

bread and jam for frances

I ordered the King brown, button, oyster mushrooms, goats cheese, silverbeet, toasted hazelnuts & toasted sourdough ($16) and was allowed to substitute the goats cheese for Meredith feta with no problems. It was hearty and filling and while a relatively basic dish, very satisfying toppling over with the mushroom melange.

bread and jam for frances

I then returned to drool over the sweets cabinet and was immediately drawn to the orange and pistachio cake with a syringe jauntily jabbed into it. I do love a dessert gimmick! The cake was grainy yet moist with a sweet dose of citrus within once the syrup had been injected inside.

bread and jam for frances

I think books and coffee go hand in hand and a cafe elevates a great bookshop to a fantastic bookshop. Bread and Jam for Frances is the kind of relaxed place where you’d be happy to linger with a novel and it’s a must-do destination for Melbourne bibliophiles.


Bread and Jam for Frances 1/701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn (enter via Linda Crescent or through Readings)

Daily 7am – 6pm

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Melbourne Museum SmartBar – Giveaway!

SmartBar_Enews_1

Melbourne Museum is opening up next Thursday night 20 August for its popular adults-only Smartbar, with a theme for this event being Get Stuffed!

Spend a night exploring the scientific and historic background of taxidermy with the museum’s experts.

Image 30833 Title Felis silvestris, Wild Cat  mounted mammal specimen Source: Museum Victoria / Photographer: Heath Warwick

Image 30833
Title Felis silvestris, Wild Cat mounted mammal specimen
Source: Museum Victoria / Photographer: Heath Warwick

This adults-only event is stuffed with demos, drinks, talks and a dash of digital media that will make you think differently about taxidermy – an art form that takes years to learn and even longer to master. You’ll also be able to learn why Museums still collect in the 21st century and explore shifting attitudes towards taxidermy.

Food and drink is available for purchase on the night, or walk to nearby Fitzroy and check out some great eateries.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 concession/MV members – buy tickets here or call 131102 and join the Facebook event here.

Giveaway! Thanks to Melbourne Museum I have 3 x double passes to give away to attend Smartbar on Thursday 20 August 6-9:30pm.

To enter, follow the instructions below and the three winners will be drawn randomly after the competition closes midnight Monday 17 August. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HOT: Fifty-Six Threads, 56 Derby St, Kensington

fifty six threads cafe

Fifty-Six Threads is a social enterprise cafe located in the unlikely location at the bottom of a housing commission block in Kensington.

The cafe is a project for AMES, Australia’s largest provider of humanitarian settlement, education, training and employment services for refugees and newly arrived migrants. Fifty-Six Threads is AMES’ second catering enterprise, with the first being Sorghum Sisters, an African catering business.

Fifty-Six Threads’ name is inspired by its location (ie number 56 Derby Street) and the many cultural threads that run through the cafe and the local community.  During our visit on a rainy weekday it was fairly quiet but a diverse cross-section of clientele trickled in, from the postie to a local resident to families.

fifty six threads cafe

Given the dour exterior the cafe’s interior is modern and funky, with lots of geometric angles softened with beautiful pendant lights suspended from the ceiling.

fifty six threads cafe

Coffee comes from STREAT, another social enterprise based near Kensington, and the food is all made on site by a single (professional) chef.

fifty six threads cafe

The menu contains simple cafe classics at an unbeatable price. A huge home made sausage roll with delicious tomato relish is $3.50; the burger with chips is $13 and the generous French toast is $14.

fifty six threads cafe

The burger is a stand out as the home made patty is a loose conglomeration of mince and herbs, grilled to crusty perfection. It’s sandwiched between a floury bap along with fresh tomato, lettuce and beetroot (tinned unfortunately).

To enhance the community feel there’s a small bookshelf with children’s and adults books.

fifty six threads cafe

It’s actually a rotating library for the local community so that you can take the books away, with the polite request that you return them when you’re done.

Fifty-Six Threads is a simple, relaxing  cafe (with a funky Latin soundtrack on our visit) if you’re in Kensington looking for good value food and coffee with friendly service.

They also offer very reasonable catering with mini cakes/muffins at $3 per person and savoury finger food at $3 each and sandwiches/wraps at $7.50 per person. Best of all you know that your money is going to a good cause.


Fifty-Six Threads, 56 Derby St, Kensington (03) 9376 6885

Wed-Sun 7:30-3:30pm

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HOT: Darling Street Espresso, 146 Athol St, Moonee Ponds

darling street espresso

I just love it when old milk bars are transformed into community spaces of a different kind – a welcoming local cafe. And so the story goes with Darling Street Espresso, a 7-day a week daytime operation that inhabits a corner position on Darling Street and Athol Street in suburban Moonee Ponds.

Despite its quiet location, away from the main strip of Union Road,  it’s actually a prime position for a  local. It’s down the road from a school and just a hop skip and jump to Maribyrnong Park and the river.

darling street espresso

The interior is cosy, with a front room and steps leading to a red and tightly squeezed back room.

darling street espresso

A better bet is the side corridor (marked ‘For prams and pets’) that leads an undercover courtyard with narrow garden beds and a small Astroturf play area for kids.

darling st espresso

 

darling st espresso

The all day menu is rather eclectic, with Italian, American, Mexican dishes all jumbled in – so you can have a cheeseburger or tacos for breakfast if you choose! Coffee is made with Fitzroy’s Industry Beans.

darling st espresso

Breakfast runs all day and I ordered beetroot-tinged cured salmon, two poached eggs resting atop two potato and preserved lemon pancakes and avocado puree ($16). The mini pancakes were an interesting twist on a traditional breakfast dish though I couldn’t detect much citrus in them.

darling st espresso

To test out their sweet breakfast options I ordered the grilled banana bread. For $14.50 you get two slices of soft banana bread, a puddle of activated chia and quince pudding and lots of crunchy paleo granola.

 

darling st espresso

To finish I couldn’t resist one of their puddings ($9). The dark chocolate pudding came with frozen honey custard and chocolate popcorn. It was a bit too sickly sweet for my liking and the messy presentation wasn’t terribly appealing. I think the custard would be better off being churned into ice-cream for textural and visual appeal.

The service at  Darling Street Espresso was very friendly and helpful and I liked how they had a buzzer at the entry of the courtyard to call out a waiter if necessary. While the inside of the cafe is cosy and beautifully decorated, the outside courtyard is where to hang out.

Darling Street Espresso, 146 Athol St, Moonee Ponds

Monday – Sunday 8am-4pm

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HOT: Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee

truck stop deluxe

Truck Stop Deluxe is a new burger joint parked (pun intended) right in the centre of the Werribee.

It’s been created by three of Melbourne’s best-known burger pioneers –  Josh Lefers (Grand Trailer Park Taverna and Pawn & Co.), Dani Zeini (Dandenong Pavillion and Grand Trailer Park Taverna) and Jimmy Hurlston (Jimmy’s Burgers and Easey’s).

SONY DSC

This time, instead of trailers, the theme is trucks!

truck stop deluxe

truck stop deluxe

The bright, brash and cheeky venue is inspired by an American truck stop diner and it’s sure to shake things up in a relatively quiet suburban restaurant strip.

truck stop deluxe

truck stop deluxe

truck stop deluxe

I was invited to the launch and got up close and personal with some excellent burgers and a lion’s share of Kinder Surprise milkshakes made with ice-cream, chocolate, Frangelico and Baileys. Oh my.

truck stop deluxe

The menu is all about fancy burgers, cocktails and alcohol-spiked milkshakes.

truck stop deluxe

About 70% of the menu from Grand Trailer Park Taverna is replicated here, with some fried chicken and breakfast brioche rolls on weekends and ice cream doughnuts thrown into the mix.

truck stop deluxe

While the food is fun it’s the interior that really gets the party started. Trucks have been built inside the restaurant…and you can sit in them if you like! Complete with fluffy dice!

truck stop deluxe

truck stop deluxe

Up the back of the inside area are larger leather booths with big screens replicating the experience of sitting inside a truck cab watching the scenery go by. Out the back is a covered courtyard.

truck stop deluxe

Truck Stop Deluxe is bringing amazing burgers to the west from Wednesday 29 July. If you’re local, heading west or a truckie – don’t miss it!


 

Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee (03) 9741 4000

Wednesday to Sunday 11.30am until late

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HOT: Dockyard Food Trucks, 2 Ann St, Williamstown

dockyard williamstown

Food truck parks are even a bigger trend than food trucks in Melbourne at the moment and Dockyard is the newest one that’s set up inside Seaworks in Williamstown.

Dockyard is open every Friday night 5-9pm in July and August with a rotating lineup of five food trucks, of which at least one is a dessert option.

While the food choices are small Dockyard has a couple of advantages over other food truck parks in Melbourne:

(a) indoors, with heaters!

(b) scenic panoramic views of the Melbourne skyline – watch the sunset and enjoy the Docklands winter fireworks at 7:30pm;

(c) boats to admire, including the Sea Shepherd;

(d) free parking on site and in surrounding streets….

dockyard williamstown

…and of course everyone loves the value-for-money food that food trucks provide, especially on can’t-be-bothered-to-cook Friday nights!

The set up is inside the Seaworks  sheds and they’ve done wonders to turn a cavernous industrial space into a place that’s cosy and welcoming.

dockyard williamstown

The trucks are parked in a semi-circle and the ‘forecourt’ set up with furniture and games, including a couch with a cosy fireplace and milk crates galore.

dockyard williamstown

On our visit we sampled food from ToastaPizza Wagon and Smokin’ Barry’s BBQ, had a play of foozball and generally soaked up the atmosphere of having an adventure under the cover of darkness.

dockyard williamstown

On the last night of Dockyard’s winter opening, Friday 28 August, there will be a night market and buskers too.


Dockyard Food Truck Fridays, Seaworks, 2 Ann St, Williamstown

HOT: Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12-14 Claremont St, South Yarra

zumboSome days when I’m feeling blue, I thank god for Adriano Zumbo. His eponymous patisserie in South Yarra is a Willy Wonka riot of mirror, neon and cake and the long pastry cabinet never fails to lift my spirits.

When faced with so many fantastical desserts it’s hard to know where to start. But if you go on Tuesday I have a tip for you – for the foreseeable future you can buy one tart get one half price as part of ‘Two Tart Tuesday’.

zumbo

With that in mind I order the precisely swirled lemon meringue tart and the luxurious ‘Me So Nutty’ with gianduja caramel, milk chocolate gianduja soft ganache and topped with golden hazelnutszumbo

I also can’t resist a ‘Zonut’ with flavours that change every week. So popular are Zumbo’s version of the croissant/donut hybrid that customers are limited to only four at a time.

zumbo

As I bite into one I can understand why! The outer crust is so crisp and light I create an explosion of pastry crumbs with every mouthful, and the filling is so smooth and rich with  a Mexican dark chocolate – whipped ganache with hints of cinnamon and chilli. The topping? More chocolate and marshmallows!

For other treats I have also been known to queue for Zumbo’s macarons (Zumbarons) on occasion and they are one of the best I’ve ever tried due to their consistency and precision in texture. There is also hand-crafted ice cream or savoury pies, sausage rolls and quiches.

There are a few small tables and chairs inside the bakery where you can enjoy your coffee and cake on the spot, though during busy period it can get crowded so it’s more of a takeaway place. Taking one of the distinctive orange boxes out on the street will bring a spring to your step, I promise!

Adriano Zumbo Patissier is a joyride for Melbourne sweet tooths and if you enjoy those treats make sure you visit Fancy Nance around the corner, Zumbo’s new high tea salon which turns afternoon tea on its head.

Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12-14 Claremont St, South Yarra 1800 858 611

Open 7 days 7am – 7pm

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